Thursday, January 31, 2013

"The Howling Man"

The Howling Man (Robin Hughes) pleads for his freedom with
stranded traveler David Ellington (H.M. Wynant)
"The Howling Man"
Season Two, Episode 41
Original Air Date: November 4, 1960

David Ellington: H.M. Wynant
Brother Jerome: John Carradine
The Howling Man: Robin Hughes
Brother Christophorus: Frederic Ledebur
Housekeeper: Ezelle Poule

Writer: Charles Beaumont (based on his story)
Director: Douglas Heyes
Producer: Buck Houghton
Associate Producer: Del Reisman
Production Managers: Ralph W. Nelson and Sidney Van Keuren
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
Art Direction: George W. Davis and Phil Barber
Set Decoration: Henry Grace and H. Web Arrowsmith
Assistant Director: Darrell Hallenbeck
Casting: Ethel Winant
Sound: Franklin Milton and Charles Scheid
Music: Stock
Makeup: MGM Makeup Department (William Tuttle, supervisor)

And Now, Mr. Serling:
"Down this hall is a very strange individual locked in a room. He's known by various names and by various forms and next week on The Twilight Zone you'll be close to the elbow of the people who let him out. Our story is called 'The Howling Man' by Mr. Charles Beaumont. It's designed for the young in heart but strong in nerve. I hope we'll see you next week along with 'The Howling Man.' Thank you and good night."

 Rod Serling's Opening Narration:

"The prostrate form of Mr. David Ellington, scholar, seeker of truth, and, regrettably, finder of truth. A man who will shortly arise from his exhaustion to confront a problem that has tormented mankind since the beginning of time. A man who knocked on a door seeking sanctuary and found instead the outer edges of The Twilight Zone."

            "It's an incredible story. I of all people know this. And you won't believe me. No, not at first. But I'm going to tell you the whole thing. Then you will believe because you must. You must believe."
So begins David Ellington's story of how, after the first World War, he became lost in a storm during a walking tour of central Europe. Coming upon a remote hermitage, he begs entry and is allowed to see Brother Jerome, the leader of an order of monks who reside in the hermitage. Ellington is alarmed when he hears strange howling sounds from somewhere within the hermitage. When confronted by Brother Jerome, Ellington explains his situation and asks for shelter and food. Jerome firmly tells him that the brotherhood cannot help him and Ellington will have to leave the hermitage immediately. Shocked by Jerome's lack of empathy, Ellington slowly makes his leave but is unable to reach the door before collapsing unconscious upon the floor.
            Upon waking, Ellington again hears the strange howling and tracks the sound to a small cell with a barred door. Within the cell is a young, thin, bearded man who begs Ellington for help in releasing him. The prisoner tells Ellington that Brother Jerome and the others in the hermitage are insane and have imprisoned him here against his will. Ellington tells the prisoner that he will speak to Brother Jerome and this only sends the prisoner into panic. "Jerome," says the prisoner, "is the maddest one of all."

            When Ellington confronts Brother Jerome, the old monk attempts to convince Ellington that he has not seen or spoken to a man at all. The howling which Ellington hears again and again Brother Jerome pretends not to hear at all. It is only when Ellington threatens to involve the authorities in the matter that Jerome relents and tells Ellington the truth. The man in the cell is the Devil, himself!
            Ellington is reluctant to believe the incredible story but tells Jerome that he does believe. Jerome sees through the lie and attempts to explain to Ellington how he and the brotherhood came to be the wardens of the Devil. The herding staff which all the members of the order carry represent "truth," which is, in Jerome's words, the greatest weapon against the Devil. It is but a meager wooden staff which holds closed the door of the Devil's cell. Jerome pursued the Devil across the world and finally managed to trap him. Ellington again tells Jerome that he believes. This time, unfortunately, Jerome believes him.

            Later in the night, Ellington leaves his room against Jerome's orders by stealing the key to the locked bedroom door from the neck of the sleeping Brother Christophus. Ellington rushes to the prison cell to free the man within. In a moment before he frees the prisoner, Ellington notices that it is only a thin piece of wood, the staff of truth, which holds the door closed. It is something which can easily be removed by the prisoner. It is the last questioning moment that Ellington will have and to remove the staff seems to be a difficult act. Once the staff is removed, Ellington learns the terrible truth. The man in the cell really is the Devil and he quickly escapes from the hermitage.
            Years later, after the second World War and the Korean War and the development of new weapons of mass destruction, Ellington manages to recapture the Devil. He keeps the prisoner locked in a room in his home, barred only by a small wooden staff. He plans on transporting the Devil back to Brother Jerome at the hermitage. It is not to be. Though the whole tale has been a tale of warning to Elllington's housekeeper, whom he leaves in charge of his home while he is off making arrangements to move the Devil back to Brother Jerome, the housekeeper, upon hearing the howling from behind the closed door, cannot resist removing the staff once Ellington has left. The door opens to darkness but we know what waits there in the dark.

 Rod Serling's Closing Narration:
"Ancient folk saying: 'You can catch the Devil but you can't hold him long.' Ask Brother Jerome. Ask David Ellington. They know, and they'll go on knowing to the end of their days and beyond, in The Twilight Zone."


           “A man was in the cell. On all fours, circling like a beast, his head thrown back, a man. The moonlight showed his face. It cannot be described – not, at least, by me. A man past death might look like this, a victim of the Inquisition rack, the stake, the pincers: not a human in the third decade of the twentieth century, surely. I had never seen such suffering within two eyes, such lost, mad suffering. Naked, he crawled about the dirt, cried, leaped up to his feet and clawed the hard stone walls in fury.
            Then he saw me.”

                                    -“The Howling Man” by Charles Beaumont 

            With "The Howling Man," The Twilight Zone ventured directly into Gothic horror in bravura style, complete with an old European abbey, a thunderous storm, a lost traveler, and a confrontation with the ultimate enemy of mankind. "The Howling Man" succeeds on every level, from the script, direction, photography, and casting to the makeup and set design. Even the stock music, which includes pieces from regular series contributors Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann, is used effectively. Its imagery makes it one of the most recognizable episodes of the series, with its unusual atmosphere, a memorable monster, and its frequent broadcasts in The Twilight Zone syndication packages. The episode remains one of the crowning achievements not only of the second season but of the entire series. It is a triumph for writer Charles Beaumont and director Douglas Heyes, and definitively displayed, with its early second season broadcast, that Rod Serling's series was capable of producing engaging fantasy on television that held appeal across a range of viewer demographics. The episode is not flawless but it is one of a handful of episodes that maintain the show's unique cultural identity, familiar as it is even among those who have never seen the episode.
            The genesis of the episode begins with Charles Beaumont's original short story, published in the November, 1959 issue of Rogue, a men's magazine (one of many that appeared in the wake of Hugh Hefner's Playboy) that was fortunate enough to briefly have as its editors a pair of talented American writers who specialized in speculative fiction, Harlan Ellison and Frank M. Robinson. The story was later reprinted in Beaumont’s collection Night Ride and Other Journeys (Bantam, 1960). The story has become a classic of its type, its influence boosted by its adaptation on The Twilight Zone. It has often been reprinted and served as the title story of Beaumont's career retrospective, Charles Beaumont: Selected Stories, when that limited edition volume was published in paperback as The Howling Man by Tor Books in 1992. It is a core work in Beaumont's relatively small but highly influential body of work.
            At the time the story was published, Beaumont was on a monthly retainer from Playboy for first refusal rights to his fiction. Ray Russell, a fringe member of the group of writers who coalesced around Beaumont, was the fiction editor of Playboy at the time. Beaumont was also writing nostalgic essays for Playboy, many of which were written in collaboration with Twilight Zone writers Jerry Sohl and OCee Ritch and later collected in Remember, Remember? (Macmillan, 1963).                 
           Because of his close association with Playboy, Beaumont was strongly discouraged from submitting his work to competing periodicals if he hoped to continue to sell to Hefner's high-paying magazine. Beaumont resorted to using pseudonyms to place his work with other periodicals. Beaumont had already sold several nonfiction pieces to Rogue, including personality profiles under the uniform title, "Rogue of Distinction" (a series Beaumont shepherded from 1956-1959), and articles on automobile racing (in collaboration with William F. Nolan), all written without a byline or under the pseudonym Michael Phillips. "The Howling Man" was first submitted to Playboy but the magazine turned it down (Hefner allegedly didn't care for the story). Beaumont took the story from the Chicago offices of Playboy to the nearby offices of Rogue in Evanston, Illinois. Fiction editor Harlan Ellison (recently discharged from the Army and well into his professional writing career) knew the Beaumont story was a gem and published it in the November, 1959 issue of Rogue under the pseudonym "C.B. Lovehill," a play on Beaumont's name. Other Beaumont stories appeared in Rogue under the Lovehill pseudonym. The December, 1960 issue saw the Lovehill byline on a story titled "Dead, You Know," and, some months earlier, in the April, 1960 issue of Rogue, another story appeared by Lovehill, the short fantasy "Gentlemen, Be Seated." Beaumont later adapted this story into a teleplay for the fifth season of The Twilight Zone before William Froug, the show's final producer, shelved it. The script can be read in The Twilight Zone Scripts of Charles Beaumont, Volume One, edited by Roger Anker (Gauntlet Press, 2004).
            Though the original plot of "The Howling Man" short story is retained for the adaptation on The Twilight Zone, the differences between the two versions are numerous. Generally speaking, Beaumont, and the production crew, improved upon the short story with nearly every change incorporated into the adaptation. There are subtle changes, such as Father Jerome in the story becoming Brother Jerome in the episode. The shepherding staffs which the inhabitants of the hermitage carry do not exist in the story. The door to the prisoner's cell is therefore kept closed using a simple lock and not the "staff of truth," the one barrier the Devil cannot pass. Beaumont's original script described the members of the hermitage as carrying large crosses but director Douglas Heyes was against using this because he did not think it wise to use a distinctly religious symbol for fear of a backlash among viewers. The image of the staff was substituted for the cross. The sounds of the Howling Man are referred to as screams in the short story. Due to the nature of the literary medium, a reader need not dwell on the specific nature of the sound as that aspect is left purely to the reader's imagination. The Howling Man is, in fact, seen howling, or screaming, in the short story and director Douglas Heyes wisely avoided showing Robin Hughes making the howling noises in the episode as this would have not only been incredibly difficult to convincingly execute, but would certainly have destroyed the carefully built tension and atmosphere. 
            Other changes are more significant. As originally written, the true nature of the prisoner in the cell is more ambiguous. Beaumont chose to reveal the Devil only as a single cloven hoof descending over the abbey wall as the Devil makes his escape. Even with this approach it is never clear, even at the end of the story, whether Ellington has truly released the Devil upon the world or simply been the victim of strong suggestion by the religious fanatics that live in the abbey. It is, however, suggested that Ellington did indeed release the Devil as what follows is World War II and all the horrors resultant of that terrible conflict. The ending of the short story, equally ambiguous, concludes with Ellington receiving a postcard from Brother Christophorus which reads: "Rest now, my son. We have him back with us again." Elllington, as filmed for The Twilight Zone, becomes obsessed with recapturing the Devil and getting him back to Brother Jerome and accomplishes the feat himself.
            For The Twilight Zone, Beaumont wanted, with the appearance and escape of the Devil, to retain the original story's version. He wanted the glimpse of a cloven hoof descending over the wall and the look upon Ellington's face to be confirmation enough for the audience. Douglas Heyes felt this was not enough and disliked the ambiguous nature of the ending. Heyes began his career while still a teenager working as an artist for Walt Disney Studios. The visual artist within knew that they needed to show and not merely suggest what the entire episode built toward. The result was a literal transformation of actor Robin Hughes into the archetypal image of the Devil using makeup and photographic techniques. The result has split many viewers, some of whom do not like the literal transformation. Though most viewers agree, including us here in the Vortex, that a transformation needed to happen and not simply be suggested, some writers have criticized the makeup as too literal and unimaginative. It's really a pointless argument as the entire episode is filmed and acted in an exaggerated manner and if the viewer accepts John Carradine's wonderful, yet over-the-top, performance as the staff wielding, white bearded, bass-toned Brother Jerome, then the viewer should accept the literal version of the Devil.

            Though the makeup is a bit pedestrian (in concept if not execution), the transformation of Robin Hughes into the Devil is one of the finest technical achievements of the series. Though Douglas Heyes has been interviewed on the subject more than once, his version of the design and genesis of the effect varied. In an early interview with Marc Scott Zicree, conducted in the late 1970s, while Zicree was researching his pioneering book, The Twilight Zone Companion (1982), Heyes does not credit any major film source for the technique, though it is obvious to those well-versed in the genre which films the director and his crew borrowed from. Heyes would amend his statements on the effects for "The Howling Man" in later interviews and would rightly credit the two films from which the techniques were derived, 1931's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from Paramount (starring Fredric March, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, with makeup by Wally Westmore and cinematography by Karl Struss) and 1935's Werewolf of London from Universal Studios (starring Henry Hull, directed by Stuart Walker, with makeup by Jack Pierce and photographic effects by John P. Fulton). Heyes does make two small errors when he further states that Dr. Jekyll's transformation into Mr. Hyde (in the 1931 film version) was a stationary, lap dissolve technique in the mold of Universal's The Wolf Man from 1941 (it was not), and that Henry Hull walks up a staircase for his transformation in 1935's Werewolf of London (he begins by descending a staircase but the transformation occurs while the actor walks through a garden, concealed and then revealed by a line a trees). Heyes does not take credit for the idea to use these specific techniques, however, and credits the achievement to photographer George T. Clemens and makeup supervisor William Tuttle.
            The transformation effects in the episode were achieved two-fold. The first part of the transformation occurs immediately after Ellington has released the Devil from his cell. A distinct physical change comes across the facial features of actor Robin Hughes. This effect was achieved using the same method that changed Kevin McCarthy from a young man to an old man in a matter of seconds in Beaumont's first season episode, "Long Live Walter Jameson." This is a process by which makeup is applied to the actor is a specific hue and color filters are used to first conceal and then reveal the makeup. In this case, red makeup was applied to Hughes's face. A red filter over the camera concealed the makeup until the transformation was scripted to happen. The red filter was then removed and replaced with a green filter, thus revealing the red makeup in a dark hue and giving the illusion of a transformation. This also allowed the actor to be in motion at the time of the transformation and did not require the technique of a stationary lap dissolve with photographic editing to be used. The color filter process, which is only effective in black-and-white cinematography, was perfected by makeup artist Wally Westmore, photographer Karl Struss, and director Rouben Mamoulian for the aforementioned 1931 horror classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The transformation of Fredric March (co-winner of a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in the film) from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde is still one of the most impressive transformations and makeups in the history of film.
            The second portion of the transformation was a technique taken from another horror film of the 1930s, a production from the preeminent horror film studio, Universal Studios, and their first foray into lycanthropy, the 1935 film Werewolf of London. The film featured a minimal werewolf makeup designed by head of the Universal makeup department Jack Pierce. The reason for the minimal makeup design is often erroneously given as the fact that actor Henry Hull was not a willing participant for heavy makeup and Jack Pierce was forced to alter his vision for the werewolf, not unveiling his full version for another six years, in 1941, with The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney, Jr. In truth, Hull was more than willing to undergo heavy makeup and often used his own makeup designs to turn himself into Edgar Allan Poe or Mark Twain for a stage production or a film. The true reason the werewolf makeup is minimal in Werewolf of London is that Hull's character was supposed to be recognized by the other characters in the film when he was in werewolf form and Pierce's heavy makeup would have made that recognition all but impossible. 
            Werewolf of London displayed an innovative transformation sequence designed by Academy Award-winning special effects photographer John P. Fulton. Henry Hull began his first transformation into a werewolf as he exited his home and began to make his way to his private laboratory across a garden. The transformation occurred as the actor's image was first concealed and then revealed as he moved across a line of trees. It was achieved by photographing the actor in progressing stages of makeup while walking the same path and using the same camera speed for multiple takes. The effect was completed by editing the footage together to create the appearance of one continuous take, thus creating the transformation. Director Heyes and photographer George T. Clemens did the same thing for "The Howling Man." Actor Robin Hughes walked down the abbey corridor behind a line of pillars, first concealed and then revealed. Heyes and Clemens's version is much faster and cleanly edited but they had nearly thirty years to perfect the process. John P. Fulton, a two-time Academy Award winner, also created the astounding photographic effects for Universal's The Invisible Man series of films. Jack Pierce created numerous makeups for Universal in the 1930s and 1940s, including Boris Karloff's makeup for Frankenstein and The Mummy, and Lon Chaney, Jr.'s makeup for the aforementioned The Wolf Man. Pierce was unceremoniously fired by Universal in the late 1940's and replaced with Bud Westmoore as head of the makeup department. This was primarily because Pierce held on to the technique of using outmoded methods of makeup appliance and displayed a general reluctance to use innovations such as foam rubber appliances. Still, it is telling that when it came time to recreate the makeup effects achieved by Lon Chaney, Sr. in films such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925) for the biopic Man of a Thousand Faces (1957), the foam rubber appliances from the Universal Makeup Department were in no way as effective as Chaney's makeups of over thirty years earlier. 
            One final note on the makeup. William Tuttle's aging makeup on actor H.M. Wynant was exceptional. Though Tuttle will always be remembered for his grotesque makeups for episodes of The Twilight Zone ("Eye of the Beholder," "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," "The Masks," etc.) and his Academy Award winning makeup for The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, Tuttle was also very skilled in subtle makeups and his work on aging H.M. Wynant is a notable example.
            Douglas Heyes appears to be the director that producer Buck Houghton preferred during the show's first two seasons for episodes which required more than the usual technical requirements. Heyes would direct some of the show's most impressive, technically challenging episodes, including "The After Hours," "Eye of the Beholder," "The Invaders," and "The Howling Man." Heyes and photographer George T. Clemens decided to use expressionistic camera work for the episode and the effects are impressive. From the beginning sequence, in which the camera zooms out of the window, through the pounding storm, and backwards in time for a rain-drenched exterior view of the partially ruined abbey (a miniature), the camera never seems to stand still or take a straight angle for the entire episode. It is especially frenetic in the early portion of the episode as Heyes attempts to use the camera to convey the disoriented mindset of H.M. Wynant's character, David Ellington, who arrives sick and weak at the door to the hermitage.
            Another effect which was integral to the show's success was the sound of the howling. Though Heyes and the crew decided on the sound of a traditional wolf or dog howl, the process for selecting the sound was apparently a dilemma. The prolific writer William F. Nolan, a close friend to Charles Beaumont, accompanied Beaumont to the set of "The Howling Man" during filming. Nolan relates the story to author Marc Scott Zicree of the crew spending a great amount of time listening to recordings of different screams and howls, trying to settle on the proper sound. The sound settled upon is certainly generic but it seems inconceivable that any sound would have sufficed when the readers of the original story could simply rely on their imagination to conjure the proper sound. In its adaptation, it was a difficult effect to achieve and, as noted before, Heyes wisely chose not to show Robin Hughes actually making the howling sound.         
            As with any episode with a small cast (for “The Howling Man,” only five principle characters and four speaking parts), the casting was very important to the success of the show. Heyes had previously worked with John Carradine and knew that the actor's range could extend from extremely reserved to extremely broad. Carradine was a Shakspearian trained actor and placed most of the his acting income into a largely unsuccessful Shakespeare company that traveled around America bringing the Bard to the masses. Heyes gave Carradine the go-ahead to let loose with the character of Brother Jerome and Carradine turns in a commanding performance, moving from reserved, holy-father figure to raving religious fanatic and back again. It has become one of the most memorable and recognizable performances in the show's entire run. Though Carradine starred in several highly regarded American films, such as director John Ford's films Stagecoach (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) (for which he would be typecast as a rugged, western type and thereafter find dozens of roles in western films and television series), and racked up some 340 film and television credits, he is best-remembered by horror and science fiction fans for his roles in Universal's horror films of the 1940's, including Captive Wild Woman (1943), The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944), The Mummy's Ghost (1944), and memorable turns as Dracula in House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945). Carradine also turned up as Dracula in the camp western/horror film Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966). He was also a familiar face in the Poverty Row horror films from the 1940's, finding roles in Revenge of the Zombies (1943), Voodoo Man (1944), Return of the Ape Man (1944), and as the title character in director Edgar G. Ulmer's Bluebeard (1944). Carradine was also all over television from the mediums earliest days right up until the end of his career. His genre television credits include episodes of Lights Out, Suspense, Thriller, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Munsters, Lost in Space, Rod Serling's Night Gallery, and the 1980's The Twilight Zone revival for the episode "Still Life." In 1953, he appeared in a segment of The Kate Smith Hour titled "The Hound of Heaven," opposite James Dean. The segment was written by Earl Hamner, Jr. and was an early treatment of the writer's Twilight Zone episode "The Hunt." John Carradine died in Milan on November 27, 1988.
            H.M. Wyant was born on February 12, 1927. He began acting at age 19, and has amassed over 140 film and television credits in his long career. Wynant began in television and worked virtually nonstop on numerous series before getting occasional roles in films in the late 1960's, finding a memorable part in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972). His genre credits include Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond, Thriller, and Batman.
             Robin Hughes, the Howling Man, was born in Buenos Aires in 1920 and died in Hollywood in 1989. He worked until the early 1970's in both film and television. Genre credits include The Mole People (1956), The Thing That Couldn't Die (1958), and on television in Boris Karloff's Thriller and Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond.
            "The Howling Man" remains one of the finest episodes produced for The Twilight Zone. It displays a range of exceptional and innovative technical effects and shows the care and attention with which the talented crew afforded scripts and productions they considered worthy of such preparation and careful execution. It also displays the thematic range attainable on the series, from far flung science fiction to Gothic horror, and remains arguably the most famous show to emerge from the typewriter of Charles Beaumont, the series writer that created some of the most unique and innovative scripts of the series and whose career was sadly cut short from the early onset of a mentally debilitating disease.

Grade: A+

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following for information contained in the commentary:

-The Work of Charles Beaumont, An Annotated Bibliography and Guide by William F. Nolan (2nd edition, Borgo Press, 1990)

-The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree (2nd edition, 1989)

-Marc Scott Zicree interview with Douglas Heyes (included as a commentary track on "The Howling Man" on the Definitive Edition DVD of The Twilight Zone, season 2)

-"The Howling Man" by Charles Beaumont (The Howling Man, Tor, 1992)

-Harlan Ellison's introduction to "The Howling Man" by Charles Beaumont (The Howling Man, Tor, 1992)

-The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (

--Charles Beaumont originally published the short story “The Howling Man” in the November, 1959 issue of Rogue under the pseudonym C.B. Lovehill. It has been reprinted in the author's collection Night Ride and Other Journeys (Bantam, 1960) and Charles Beaumont: Selected Stories (Dark Harvest, 1988), titled The Howling Man in paperback (Tor Books, 1992), a career retrospective edited by Roger Anker.
-Director Douglas Heyes also directed several classic episodes of the series, including "The After Hours," "Eye of the Beholder" and "The Invaders." Heyes wrote and directed the first segment of Rod Serling's Night Gallery, "The Dead Man" (based on the Fritz Leiber story), and also wrote the segments "The Housekeeper" and "Brenda" (based on the story by Margaret St. Clair) under the pseudonym Matthew Howard.
-John Carradine appeared in an episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery titled "Big Surprise."
-"The Howling Man" was adapted as a Twilight Zone Radio Drama by Dennis Etchison, starring Fred Willard. 
-H.M. Wynant also appeared in two Twilight Zone Radio Drama episodes, "The Trade-Ins" and "Deaths-Head Revisited."



  1. Wow! An A+ from the Vortex! I completely agree with the grade for this wonderful episode. The commentary gets an A+ as well. Nicely done!

  2. Thanks, Jack. Glad you agree with the grade. "The Howling Man" is my personal favorite episode and it's also an episode that easily lends itself to commentary. We have a handful more A+ grades to give so keep an eye out and, as always, thanks for reading.

  3. Thanks for the great commentary. One of my favorites for sure. I can always count on it to be entertaining. This is more than I thought I'd fin to read about it. :)

  4. Thanks for stopping by, D. Glad you found plenty to read. "The Howling Man" remains my personal favorite episode of the show and I could have written twice as much about it as it has an interesting production history and is a unique episode in its form and old Gothic style. Perhaps one day I will revisit the episode and write some more about it as we continue to research the show.

  5. A first rate venture into Gothic horror, Twilight Zone style. Nice evocation of Universal horrors of the Thirties more than the later, moodier, more subtle feline horror of the war years. This is full throttle hound of horror stuff, with a dungeon-like abbey, men who called themselves "brothers",--but could they be mad, could they be devils?--this isn't clear till the episode's over. Fine work from the cast, with an intense yet dignified performance from H.M. Wynant who reminds me, in his acting style, of Jeff Chandler, with his near Old Testament sense of rightness, of purpose. The Howling Man is maybe the only true blood and thunder episode of the Twilight Zone. It's quality is such as to make me wish they'd done more.

    1. I couldn't agree with you more, John. "The Howling Man" has been a favorite of ours for many years and it probably still ranks somewhere in the top five episodes for both of us. As much as I love the Universal-style Gothic horror films of the 30's and 40's this episode is probably as close as I would want the Zone to dabble in it. I think the magic of the show was its very specific approach to then-contemporary America, even if it was a western or period-war story. They were always conscious of their audience and the episodes usually reflect that. What makes this episode brilliant is that it does delve into traditional Gothic horror but retains the mid-twentieth century sensibility that gave the show its personality. Beaumont's short story would have easily worked as a Universal horror film or an episode of Thriller, but the finished product unquestionably belongs in the Twilight Zone. But I agree with you and I do wish that they had done at least a few more episodes that explored the Gothic tradition. There are a handful of genuine horror episodes but none that really resemble this one in atmosphere and setting. Thanks as always for your thoughts!

  6. What I've never understood is the general consensus that Ellington has indeed captured the Devil and has him, at the episode's conclusion, locked in that closet. As you pointed out director Heyes overruled Beaumont and made unambiguous that the man Ellington releases in the hermitage is the Devil. And so he is ... in the world of the story told in flashback by Ellington. When Ellington finishes his story, and we're restored to the present day (or, the episode's present day 1960) we're no longer in Ellington's head but the actual world. How can we trust then Ellington in this world? The episode asks us to question Brother Jerome. Shouldn't we question his successor Ellington too? Couldn't Ellington's story be the product of a fevered mind? Yes, we hear howls in the present day, but those howls could just as easily be the howls of some poor innocent Ellington has decided is his quarry? I'm a big fan of Beaumont's original ending and would like to think that some of that ambiguity in the short story found its way into the adaptation's final scenes with the maid ... Beaumont knew that stories dealing with Ultimate Evil work best without a cut-and-dried ending -- that they must be enshrouded by fog, much like Brother Jerome's hermitage.

    1. Hey, Gregory. Ambiguous endings or those that do not attempt to wrap things up neatly can be pretty interesting if used in the right story. I'm don't think that applies here though. The final scene, with the old woman opening the door and likely releasing evil back into the world, is simply a means to start the story all over again. Beaumont seemed to like this type of narrative device for he used it in several of his episodes--"Person or Persons Unknown," "Shadowplay," "Dead Man's Shoes," "Living Doll." Although, for the purpose of the story, David Ellington is speaking to the old woman it is shot in a way in which he appears to be speaking directly to the audience. So as we listen to/watch his story we see events from his perspective and are totally unaware of who the howling man is until Ellington releases him and we see his transformation. The final scene starts the narrative cycle all over again. The old woman takes the place of the audience and the younger Ellington and we now know just as much as the older, wiser Ellington and as much as Brother Jerome knew when we first encountered him. Perhaps the Devil is not waiting behind the closet door but everything we are told throughout the episode leads us to believe that he is. It's an interesting point of view though. Thanks for the insight!!

    2. Douglas Heyes' instincts were all wrong for this episode. I read in Zicree's book that he felt the audience wouldn't be happy unless they saw the titular character transform into His Satanic Majesty. Wrong. Beaumont wanted to show as little as possible, and seeing as he wrote the damned thing, Heyes should have taken his advice to heart. Instead he discarded it. What a shame. The episode would be the classic its reputed to be if they had just done things Beaumont's way. Oh well ...

  7. What?? The transformation into the devil is the best part of the episode, the moneyshot, in which the audience realizes "Holy Shit, he really is the devil!!!"

    I see the theme of this episode as being the danger of naivety - a recurring theme in the Twilight Zone. There were signs that Ellington should have picked up on - the fact that the man admitted to fooling around with girls in the village, or the fact that he couldn't lift the staff, or that he just looked plain shady.

    Beaumont and the director of the episode were trying to instill more common sense in what they saw as a naive and sheltered 1950s audience. This is actually a recurring theme in many Twilight Zone episodes - the importance of relying on common sense.

  8. Several comments about "The Howling Man":

    1. The (very brief) establishing shots of the exterior of the Hermitage in this episode are actually outtakes from Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 classic film "Rebecca" -- they are the burned-out ruins of the de Winter mansion Manderley. (They come and go before the audience has time to realize that they are nothing but roofless walls). I'd love to know how Serling got permission to use them.

    2. HOW I wish that John Carradine didn't look and sound like a "Carol Burnett Show" parody of Charlton Heston in "The Ten Commandments"! If Brother Jerome had looked and sounded more normal, it would have made Ellington's dilemma much more gripping. ("Who the hell do I believe? The plausible abbot or the plausible prisoner?"). As it is, Brother Jerome is so reminiscent of a street-corner religious fanatic, and comes off so badly compared to the pleading, sympathetic prisoner, that it would have been remarkable if Ellington HADN'T released him.

    3. As a Christian, I should point out that Brother Jerome's theology needs work. Neither the Devil, nor anyone else, can ever compel sin; if sin were not entirely elective, it wouldn't be sin in the first place. Locking the Devil up would change nothing about the human condition, especially since (as Socrates pointed out) all evil results from people seeking, not evil itself, but happiness, which they look for in the wrong places, and by the wrong methods. With apologies to the late, great Flip Wilson, no one can ever morally alibi themselves by saying "The Devil made me do it!"

    4. Who in their right mind entrusts the fate of humanity to a chambermaid?

  9. I believe this episode also intended to give the world some hope that the source of sin could indeed be contained. However,the presence of sin and curious naivete will always release sin over and over again. If you miss the point of this episode, you miss the whole concept and series.

  10. Happy 93rd birthday to H.M.Wynant (aka "David Ellington")! He is a charter member of the Society Of Longest-Lived Members Of The Acting Profession, together with Betty White (98), Angela Lansbury (94), and Olivia de Havilland (103). His fellow member, Kirk Douglas, passed away just a few days ago at 103; while his fellow "Twilight Zone" alumnus, Orson Bean ("Mr. Bevis") was tragically killed, also a few days ago, at 91, after being struck by a car while crossing a street in Los Angeles. Thank God for the film medium; they will always be with us -- as, of course, will The Founder Of The Feast, Rod Serling. (Rod's beloved wife Carol also left us in 2020; it's only 12 February, but it's already been a year of lost treasures).

    1. Happy Birthday to Mr. Wynant, indeed! "The Howling Man" has always been one of my essential episodes. Wynant was also in some of the Twilight Zone Radio Dramas, including "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville," the original episode of which I just reviewed, as well as "The Trade-Ins" and "Deaths-Head Revisited."

      We're at that point in time when we're losing so many great performers and technicians, and not only for The Twilight Zone. Losing Carol Serling and Orson Bean (in such a horrible manner) was rough. Earl Holliman, the first man in The Twilight Zone, is still with us at 91 and was recently interviewed on The Twilight Zone Podcast. But, you're right, we will always have their wonderful contributions to film and television to revisit. Thanks for posting this!

  11. I don't know whether you realize it or not, Jordan; but, if Earl Holliman hasn't yet written an autobiography, you just gave him the PERFECT title for one: "The First Man In 'The Twilight Zone' ". Hell, I'D buy a book with that title!

    1. I'm fairly certain he hasn't written an autobiography. I'd buy that one, too, and I wish I could claim that I came up with that title but truth is I've seen Holliman called that or some variation of it (first person in The Twilight Zone, etc.) in several places. It sure fits, though!

  12. The Syfy channel cut the transformation scene for what idiotic reason I don't understand. There are 5 cuts as Hughes morphs into Satan passing the pillars. Syfy reduced this to one. I've seen Howling Man dozens of times but this was the first time (1/1/22) I've seen this episode mutilated.

  13. Take a shot for every 'mm-hm' in the interview.